Born Tammy Lynn Woden on August 16, 1965, she became Tammy Wood at age 16, just a couple months before I was born. About ten years later she became Tammy Bradley and a few years after than, Tammy Wade. I'm not sure if Wade was a legal change or just one that honored someone very special in her life, but she definitely loved him. Other than these name changes, I know very little about the woman who played such a huge role in my life. The things I do know seem inconsequential. And yet, they are special because growing up, I clung to whatever nuggets I could glean about her life.
She loved sunflower seeds and Dr. Pepper, and today, so do I. She loved sunbathing and I have inherited that bad habit as well. She always wrote little smiley faces and drawings on all the letters she ever sent me and seemed to light up a room when she entered it. She had tattoos and liked to dye her hair. She swam in cutoff jeans and a bikini top and always smoke Camel cigarettes. She loved old (to me it was old) rock and roll but never seemed interested in TV. She was right handed and always had her finger and toenails painted - usually some shade of red. Almost every memory I have of her involves the summertime. She loved to swim and wasn't a morning person. I remember getting jealous of her relationships with other people whether it be her brothers or her latest boyfriend and she would find it amusing that I wanted her undivided attention.
My dad says she was very smart and they met because she would do his homework in high school. I definitely remember her being a reader. Whenever she came to visit me, she was always reading. Usually Stephen King. She also liked beer and hated it when I commented about how she shouldn't be drinking. I never had a problem with the smoking because it never took her away from me... The drinking usually did. She would go to a bar and meet someone and that was usually the beginning of the end.
She was always meeting people everywhere we went. She found friends at the supermarket, on the bus, at the lake... She never met a stranger. She wanted my kids to call her Granny because she thought it sounded younger than 'Grandma'. And she hated it when I called her Mother.
I'm sure I could think of a few other little things. As for big things... I know she never really got along with either of her parents and I know she struggled with addiction. I know she also struggled with being a mom and with feeling like she was pressured to lead a "normal" life. I think I know that she loved me, at least as much as she was capable of... And I hope I know that she knew I loved her too.
She read the letter I wrote her so I guess the last thing I ever "said" to her was 'I love you'... She died around 10pm Sunday night, September 18th at the young age of 46. I hope I can learn more about her as time goes by from people who knew her better than I did.
I love you Mom. And I miss you.